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Bahrain sees 984% rise in tourism

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Bahrain tourist attractions include Dive Bahrain, the world’s largest underwater theme park
  • Tourism revenues rose to $774m in Q1 from $80m in Q1 2021
  • India’s VFS Global building trade and tourism relations 
  • New Bahrain exhibition and conference centre opens this year

There has been a 984 percent increase in the number of tourists arriving in Bahrain in the first quarter of this year, compared with the same period last year.

The Gulf kingdom received nearly 1.7 million visitors in Q1 2022, against 152,000 in Q1 2021, according to the Information and eGovernment Authority (iGA), 

The jump follows the easing of coronavirus-related travel restrictions as global passenger movement picks up in an effort to reach the 2019 levels.

The Bahrain Tourism and Exhibition Authority (BTEA) said tourism revenues rose to BD292 million ($774m) during the first three months of this year compared with BD30m ($80m) during the same period last year – an increase of 875pc.

The latest iGA statistics reveal more than 1.483 million tourists entered Bahrain through King Fahad Causeway in Q1 2022 compared with about 84,000 in Q1 2021, reflecting an increase of 1,666pc.

The number of tourists arriving through Bahrain International Airport (BIA) rose by 147pc, from 67,000 (Q1 2021) to 166,000 (Q1 2022).

The number of licensed tourist facilities, such as hotels, apartments, restaurants and tour companies, climbed from 721 to 922, and the number of tourist nights increased from 341,000 to more than 2.9 million.

BTEA chief executive Dr Nasser Qaedi said the number of tourists confirms the high success of major tourism and entertainment events held in Bahrain, such as the Formula 1 race, the Bahrain Food Festival, which attracted about 175,000 visitors over two weeks, and the Manama Gold Festival, which featured about 180 stores notching sales of BD1.1m.

The BTEA has also recently signed 75 agreements with tour operators in Israel, Egypt, Turkey, Spain and Italy, and launched a special BTEA office at BIA to welcome and guide tourists.

India’s VFS Global has signed a contract with BTEA to serve as their market based representatives. It will be responsible for building trade relations with regional stakeholders, and promoting the destination through online and offline marketing, including social media, as well as public relations.

Bahrain is well connected with India by their national carrier, Gulf Air, with direct flights from eight cities – Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru Chennai, Hyderabad, Calicut, Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram. 

Other key initiatives included the launch of an electronic system to link hotels and restaurants to the BTEA and gather accurate statistics, and the launch of local events listing.

The new Bahrain International Exhibition and Convention Centre in Sakhir is slated to open later this year.

The world’s largest underwater theme park, Dive Bahrain, is set to reopen next year following a revamp.

According to the latest UN World Tourism Organisation World Tourism Barometer, international tourism saw a 182pc year-on-year increase in January-March 2022, with destinations worldwide welcoming an estimated 117m international arrivals compared with 41m in Q1 2021.

It added that the Middle East (+132pc) and Africa (+96pc) also saw strong growth in Q1 2022 compared with 2021, but arrivals remained 59pc and 61pc below 2019 levels respectively.